The virtual reality experience can be a truly immersive one, but for many including ourselves, it can leave the user with unwanted acne breakouts. This is typically caused by the VR headset in areas where it tends to press up against the face. But why does this happen exactly?
“When skin pores get clogged, usually by dead skin cells, oil cannot discharge and accumulates in the pore and under the skin, creating a whitehead or blackhead,” explains Viseslav Tonkovic-Capin, MD, a Kansas City dermatologist and editor at DermBoard.org. “This is a perfect environment for [the bacteria] Propionibacterium acnes, which then flourishes and causes inflammation, creating pimples.”
Because of the enclosed nature of HMD’s, they can become quite warm, causing the user to sweat and increase the risk of acne to themselves and others using the equipment.
To maintain blemish-free skin, you must first clear up your acne caused by frequent VR usage and then maintain your new, healthy skin. Here are the best dermatologist-recommended skin-care products for VR, as well as some tips and tricks to keep acne breakouts under control.
Note: This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, dermatologist, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Cleaning VR Equipment
Whether you are using your VR equipment moderately or frequently, you should properly clean and maintain it in order to avoid an accumulation of bacteria that leads to acne.
Here are some tips to keep your equipment sanitary, maintained, and functioning.
- Wipe the lens and foam of each headset using a microfiber cloth, the same kind you would use to clean glasses or a computer screen (the last thing you want to do is scratch the lenses). Dab the cloth into water or soapy water when necessary.
- Use non-alcoholic bacterial wipes between every 5-10 uses. The residue from alcoholic wipes can be a bit harsh on people's skin, as well as the equipment itself.
- Keep your VR headset somewhere where it won't collect dust. Use a can of compressed air to blow out any excess dust and debris buildup.
- Optional: Use disposable VR mask covers in between each use. They can be difficult and troublesome to deal with at times, but they will save some of the hassle in the long run.
- Optional: A nice little tool used to clean DSLR cameras and lenses is the Lenspen. At one end there's a small soft, cleaning tip. At the other is a retractable brush. Great for excess specs of dust.
You'll want to keep a supply of these items fulfilled, as most of these items are consumables that will need to be replenished periodically.
Neutrogena Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Acne Fighting Wash
If you need a basic facial cleanser, you can’t beat this one. It contains the 2% salicylic acid formula that unclogs pores, keeping them free of acne-causing buildup. See on Amazon.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Acne Face Wash
This cleanser contains salicylic acid to clean out pores and calm acne. It’s also formulated with lipo hydroxy acid to remove excess oil from the skin, leaving your complexion shine-free. See on Amazon.
AcneFree Oil-Free Acne Cleanser with Benzoyl Peroxide
This is an excellent benzoyl peroxide product. With 2.5% micronized benzoyl peroxide it’s effective yet gentle. The cleanser also contains glycerin, a hydrating ingredient. This is a great cleanser choice if you have a combination of some clogged pore type of acne with whiteheads and blackheads and some inflammatory acne with bigger pink or red pimples. See on Amazon.
Clarisonic Mia Smart 3-in-1 Sonic Facial Beauty Device
This sonic cleansing brush will help you wash your face more effectively. A timer tells you when to move on to the next area of your face. It’s also waterproof, so you can use it in the shower. See on Amazon.
AcneFree Blackhead Removing Scrub with Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment
Charcoal and 2% salicylic acid pack a one-two punch against pimples, plus the gritty texture provides physical exfoliation to unclog pores. This is an ideal cleanser choice if you have oily skin and clogged pores with whiteheads and blackheads, without many inflammatory pimples. It’s also a good alternative to benzoyl peroxide if that’s something your skin can’t tolerate well. See on Amazon.
Neutrogena Clear Pore Facial Cleanser / Mask containing Kaolin & Bentonite Clay
This cleanser contains 3.5% benzoyl peroxide and can be used as a daily cleanser or weekly mask to kill bacteria and prevent future breakouts. See on Amazon.
PCA Skin Smoothing Toner
Toning isn’t an essential skin-care step, but it can help remove pore-clogging debris from your skin. It’s alcohol-free, meaning it won’t strip skin of essential moisture. Lactic and citric acids remove dead skin cells, while aloe soothes. See on Amazon.
Dickinson's Original Witch Hazel Pore Perfecting Toner
A great drugstore pick that helps control oil production. The formula is fragrance-free, so even sensitive skin types can use it. See on Amazon.
PCA SKIN Clearskin Calming and Balancing Facial Moisturizer
Don’t think you can skip out on moisturizer if you have acne. It’s all about finding one that’s right for your skin type. This one is formulated with niacinamide to hold moisture in and prevent excess oil production. Cucumber soothes irritation. See on Amazon.
Elta MD UV Clear Sunscreen with SPF 46
Sunscreen is a must, no matter your skin type, and this is a good pick for acne-prone skin. It contains a non-comedogenic formula, which is free of heavy moisturizers that could clog pores. Zinc oxide and niacinamide are anti-inflammatory and do not promote oil production. See on Amazon.
Aveeno Clear Complexion Peel-Off Face Mask
This no-rinse mask is gentle yet effective, with ingredients including lactic acid and glycolic acid that target pimples and heal post-inflammatory pigmentation and redness. See on Amazon.
Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment
This OTC retinoid promotes skin cell turnover and curbs inflammation to deep clean pores and prevent new pimples from forming. See on Amazon.
Cruelty-Free, Vegan Skin-Care Products
If you prefer cruelty-free, vegan skin-care products, check out these ones that these compassionate companies offer.
MDacne Facial Cleanser
This cleanser combines the most effective, medical-grade acne treatment ingredients and natural, plant-based boosters to remove dirt and oil, protect your skin's barrier layer, and unclog pores. See on website.
Bliss Pore Patrol Cleanser
This rich clay cleanser utilizes a powerful, yet non-drying blend of clays and just the right skin-protecting hydrators so skin is clean and soft, but never dry. See on website.
Alba Botanica Acnedote Deep Pore Wash
Formulated with zit-zapping Salicylic Acid and Willow Bark Extract, this lathering cleanser digs deep into pores to unclog the gunk, helping banish existing zits and prevent new ones. See on Walmart.
BioClarity Skin Routine
Featuring a three-step acne treatment “[c]reated by nature and powered by science,” BioClarity’s products use cleansing plant-derived ingredients such as chamomile flower extract, green tea extract, and cucumber extract. See on website.
ACURE Incredibly Clear Acne Spot
Maximum strength 2% salicylic acid fights the zit at its source. Poet’s narcissus extract helps to lighten and brighten the appearance of your skin. Acure is 100% vegan, and can be found at Target and other drugstores. See on Amazon.
While many other factors may contribute to acne breakouts (stress, diet, sleep, hydration, etc.), cleaning your VR equipment regularly as well as maintaining a healthy skin-care routine can definitely help alleviate this problem onset by continuous VR usage. Here’s to clearer skin days ahead!
Got any other products or tips you want to share? Think we missed any? Tweet us @baserealityco !
By Brandon Kerman